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Council Discusses Dredge Dilemma

By Staff | Jun 28, 2012

“We’re down to one and we’ll be down to zero July 13,” City Administrator John Bird told Emmetsburg City Council Monday night. He was referring to personnel running the dredge on Five Island Lake.

Ten days ago, employee Matt Tindall resigned effective immediately. Tim Sidles, dredge supervisor, has the opportunity to open his own business and submitted his two week notice.

“The (lake) board met the other day and there will be an ad in the newspaper for dredge employees,” Bird told the council. “The ad says, it’s probable this position will be full time. The board feels we will get a good, qualified person by going this way. Two council members were at the meeting and agreed it would be the way to go. The council will have to decide if you want to go that way or not. The discussion was, in the non-dredging season the person would be in the public properties department.”

Bird told the council that he has been in contact with the heavy equipment program at Sheldon community college and he has contacted temp agencies in his search to fill the dredge crew positions.

“It’s kind of a unique job and it’s pretty hard to find someone who has operated a dredge,” Bird said.

Looking at the future of the dredging project, Bird stated, “We (lake board) did talk about making a request to the State before July 1 if we can’t find people to run the dredge for the remainder of the season. We could ask the State if they would be willing to move our three years of funding back one year so we’re actually four years out. We would then park the dredge for the remainder of this year. I?don’t know if they (State) would guarantee that we would get the money they awarded us for the fiscal year beginning July 1.”

Bird later clarified that the dredge supervisor would be full time. The other person, in a non-supervisory position, would be a seasonal employee.

“There’s no way we could transfer people from the city out there?” Councilman Bill Burdick asked. “I?know we’re short right now. If one person does get sick I hate to see the dredge just sitting there. Can we cross train somebody?”

Bird replied, “I’m sure Bill (Dickey, Public Properties Director) would tell you that because guys can’t take vacations in the wintertime – or normally don’t because of potential snowfall – and looking at the tenure of most of those employees, you have very few days that you have a full crew anyway.”

He added, “On the same token, I think you have a segment of the community that would hate to see the grass in the parks get unruly, and the potholes in the streets not get fixed.”

Bird also told the council that Tim Sidles and former dredge employee Tim Bunda would be available to train the new employees.

The lake board was to meet Wednesday noon to discuss their options.